My first visit to The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room was late at night. It was an afterparty following the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence awards presentation for the Australian Young Chefs, Waiters and Restaurateurs. Bonus points already, this is a place where the hospitality industry hangs out.
Last week I was back there checking out the lunch time trade. And caught up with Chef Sean Connolly.
The food philosophy of The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room is impressive yet simple. Everything Connolly told me is served in the shell or on the bone. “Everything tastes better” that way and we nodded in agreement. The most obvious shell dish is – as the name of the venue suggests – in the oysters which are shucked fresh to order. Thankfully they’re not washed. Which means the salty liquor is retained for the sucking. Each day offers different oyster types. I’m an Angasi girl myself (but they’re not always available) though I like variety and will slip down any fresh plump succulent offering. Connolly confided “I think I’m more in love with Rock than I am with Pacific.” His personal preference doesn’t effect the daily ordering; oyster guru John Susman provided the oyster guidelines for the restaurant bar.
Connolly was right when he said everything tastes better. Sitting near the pass I notice that most of the Friday lunch punters are ordering burgers. Thankfully Connolly has avoided the trend: this is one place you won’t find the all invasive bar food – sliders. While I’m sure The Morrison burgers are delicious, this lunchtime crowd are missing out on some tastier treats I think. It’s good to see Connolly back in Sydney. This grub is the stuff.
The scampi is so good – I apologise for the interruption at the table – I tweet about them on the spot. Yes, in the shell, and simply treated – just some very good accoutrements including a fine olive oil.
Similarly “It’s good: a modern Caesar @ The Morrison – 62 degree egg, Chardonnay vinaigrette, jamon breadcrumbs, white anchovies.”
It’s a hard call for a pick of the day when everything is straight up and tasty. The produce shines, perhaps most brightly with Sardines and Soldiers. I didn’t need to ask – Connolly serves Ortiz.
Perhaps the most sentimental moment is when we try Esther’s Carrots. The dish is true to his grandmother’s recipe: a dish Chef Connolly ate as a child. We’ve drifted onto the subject after talking about our food heroes. We share common ground in admiring the food of British Chef Mark Hix. I’d been talking about Hix’ writing and recipes on the humble allium: his story about Sunday nights and his grandmother cooking onions for supper. Nostalgia digs deep.
It was a long leisurely lunch. If I was still a city office worker, it would be the kind of lunch I’d like to take. Kick back and relax for the afternoon. Yet I did that anyway. We ate, we drank, we talked. And somehow, we found room for desserts (yes plural.) Both delicious. And smart. Astral’s peanut butter dessert takes on a new form more suited to the current surrounds. A peanut butter ice cream sandwich sits well with its strawberry jelly companion.
The dried raspberries give a superhero sprint to the magnificent lemon cheesecake finish line.
And the questions to always ask: would I come back / would I recommend it to my friends? The answer: a big fat tasty definite YES!
The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room Sydney
225 George Street, Sydney Australia
+61 2 9247 6744